I’ve posted this song before, so this time I was going to go with Alice Otter’s original “Our World,” but this version is just better, which I guess was the point all along.
A few days ago I wrote, “everyone is entitled to a baseline level of respect, not only at Christmas but at all times of the year.” That’s all well and good to say in the abstract, but when faced with real, concrete people and situations, it becomes more difficult to apply that principle.
I struggle with the concept of loving one’s enemies as much as anyone, and I wrote that a few days ago not so much to get on a soapbox and tell other people what to do, but because I myself often need the reminder about how to react when faced with the trolls and demagogues, the Begoonys and bullies and businessmen of the world. I need to remind myself that they usually, if not always, seek to cause pain and harm to others because they themselves are hurting.
It’s natural to want to retaliate when someone hurts us, but that’s just perpetuating the cycle. The only way to break the cycle is with compassion and forgiveness. Think of it as a game of tug-of-war; if one side drops their end of the rope, then regardless of how much the other side might want it to continue, the tug-of-war is over.
Now, that’s not to say that we should let the bullies and demagogues of the world tromp all over us, nor that we should invite the Begoonys (Begoonies?) of the world to Christmas dinner. It’s just to say that we can–and should–try to understand where they’re coming from and empathize with them, while simultaneously setting firm and reasonable boundaries.
To me, it’s the difference between being aggressive and being assertive. It’s one thing to say, “I’m going to hurt those who’ve wronged me,” and quite another to say, “I’m going to stand up for what’s right and not allow you to hurt me, or the people I love, anymore.”